Thursday, August 19, 2010

The "Sew Very Grateful" Challenge

When I was a kid, I remember coming home one day from school one day after mom picked us up and as we pulled into the garage, I just saw a TON of toys sitting there (and by ton, I mean probably like 20-30, but to a kid that’s a ton). I thought, “JACKPOT!” as it was all new Barbies and dolls and GI Joes and other good stuff. My mom could obviously tell from the smile on my face that I was excited – and then she told me that the gifts were not for my brother and I, but were for the homeless shelter.

The shelter? What?

She explained to us that there were kids who weren’t as lucky as us, and that she didn’t mean just about us having toys. She meant they didn’t have a home, or clothes – and sometimes they didn’t even know where they’d be sleeping the next night. And that for Christmas, we were going to bring them these toys at the shelter so that they could have a little fun instead of worry for their Christmas holiday.

That really struck a note. She didn’t tell people about it, she just did it herself. The same way she’d sometimes pick up a bunch of hamburgers at McDonalds and go hand them out in the downtown area to the homeless on the street who looked like they could use a meal. It wasn’t much, she said, but it was something.

So a few years ago, I decided to help where I can. I’m blessed with my own home, a husband, two beautiful, healthy kids, and pretty much anything we want. We’ve been very lucky. So I called up a local organization, asked how many kids there needed school supplies, and I went out and bought them. I’m not saying this for a “way to go, Allie, you’re awesome,” – I’m saying this so that hopefully others will be inspired to help and do little things to make the world a little better. I told them I didn’t want a tax write-off letter for it, and I didn’t want thank you cards – I just wanted to be anonymous.

That year was also the year I had two miscarriages. In two months. October 2007 and December 2007. Yes, you can get pregnant a week after miscarrying. And yes, it was devastating. When we got pregnant again in March 2008, I was scared but excited to welcome our baby girl in November – and she was perfect.

That whole scenario got me thinking about what we go through as parents. The sacrifices we make and the joys and pains we go through – each of them worth it. I decided to start doing Christmas gifts for a local shelter – this time, for one that houses women and children of domestic abuse until they can get back on their feet. The only stipulation I had for them was that the gifts be given to the mom’s to hand out for their kids, because I knew the moms might have a hard time affording gifts and the gifts should be from them to their kids.

Success – presents for kids of all ages and genders, and it was fun to do the shopping. It was important, but not as important as the next year would be.

I read an email someone passed around – something I rarely do, as I normally delete forwards – and it was about a mom who didn’t have enough money to buy Christmas gifts so she fixed up old toys that her kids had loved, and hoped that that would be enough on Christmas morning. And it made me stop to think – what about all those mom’s out there who give and do so much for their families, often with nothing left for themselves? All without complaint, because it’s the kids who matter – it’s the kids who take priority, as it should be.

Well, last year I added a category to the gifts – mom stuff. Hubby and I agreed that instead of Christmas gift for ourselves, we were going to purchase items for the kids – and their moms. I made packets for the moms, with lip gloss and hand lotion – just something small to let them know they were important on Christmas, too. As moms, we know how we think – we get down on ourselves, if we make mistakes we beat ourselves up forever. If we’d all only realize all of the great things we do – sometimes it just a simple act or gift that reminds us that we are important.

Which leads me to the point of this whole story – I’m handmaking gifts for the moms this year. Wristlets, clutches, jewelry satchels – small things that I can slip a nice something or other into. A note, along with maybe a $5 gift card, or hand lotion – but something that shows them there are others out there they’ve never even met who believe in them and what they are doing for their families.

I’m calling this venture “Sew Very Grateful” as a way of giving thanks for all the blessings in my life. So…there's two ways to participate, if you dare.

1) If anyone out there in blogland wants to donate a handmade item for this cause, it would be much appreciated. If you’re interested, please contact me at alipat79 at gmail dot com. I will take a picture of everything before I bring it to the shelter – and I know the mom’s there will be ecstatic to receive something for the holidays. Please help me spread the word if you can!

2) Do this for your group of girls, or for a senior citizens home, or for another group of moms who need a little uplifting. Make it a surprise, make it anonymous or hand-deliver it -- it doesn't matter. And then let me know what you did and how it went.

Feel free to use the button on any post related to this cause, and link it back to this blog so that we can make others aware!

What a difference we could make! Let's show ourselves, and each other, that we are proud, happy mamas!

Thanks for your time!



  1. This is awesome Allie! Also I think your post makes a very good point - teaching children from a young age that there are others out there less fortunate than us, and if we have something, that means we have something to share. Clearly this is a lesson that can last a lifetime :)

    I'm going to think of something I can make by hand ... I don't really know how to sew, but maybe there's something I can make ...

  2. I'm a bit over extended right now but I'd love to help and I'm pretty sure I can manage to find time after Labor day I could whip up some drawstring pouches. I'll get back to you soon!




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